Dermot Weld believes Tarnawa represents his best ever chance of claiming Breeders’ Cup success at Keeneland next week.
The master of Rosewell House has enjoyed huge success on the international stage, with a pair of Melbourne Cup victories and multiple top-level wins in America featuring on his illustrious CV – but a Breeders’ Cup winner has so far eluded him.
Tarnawa will cross the Atlantic with excellent claims of breaking his duck following back-to-back Group One wins in France – following up a hugely-impressive display in last month’s Prix Vermeille with a more gritty performance in the Prix de l’Opera on her return to Paris.
Weld said: “I’ve been delighted with Tarnawa. We purposefully planned an autumn campaign with her. She won the Prix Vermeille very nicely and went back and won the Prix de l’Opera and has progressed from those two Group One wins.
“We’ve kept her on the same training schedule. She’s a very straightforward filly to train. She did a nice bit of sharp work last week and I was very happy with the way she went.”
Tarnawa is entered for both the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf in Kentucky – and Weld confirmed she is set to take on the boys in the longer of the two races, with Christophe Soumillon keeping the ride.
He added: “It’s pretty certain that she’ll go to the Turf. It’s a pretty tight track with a short straight and there will likely be a bigger field in the Filly & Mare race, so the chance of getting a bad draw increases.
“Christophe Soumillon will definitely ride her. I thought he gave her two perfect rides when she won her two Group Ones and you don’t break a winning combination.”
Asked whether he felt Tarnawa was his best chance heading to a Breeders’ Cup, Weld said: “Unquestionably.
“It would be lovely to win a Breeders’ Cup race. I’ve had very few horses with the serious chance that I believe she has of winning.”
Just a length behind Tarnawa when third in the Prix de l’Opera was Audarya, who will become multiple Group One-winning trainer James Fanshawe’s first ever Breeders’ Cup runner when she lines up for the Filly & Mare Turf.
“It’s very exciting, because for a stable of our size, when you’re never going to be champion trainer or anything like that, it’s about finding a good horse and doing a good job with what you’ve got,” said the Newmarket handler.
“Training winners is great and every winner you’re really grateful for, but to have the chance to go for a race like this is what the game’s all about.
“It’s tough competition at the Breeders’ Cup and I hate going with only half a chance. I feel this filly is really well, we’ve talked about it for a while and that’s where we’ll go.”
Audarya was winning a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle as recently as early August, but has made huge progress since by claiming a surprise Group One win in the Prix Jean Romanet before proving that effort was no fluke behind Tarnawa on Arc weekend.
Fanshawe added: “We’ve always really liked the filly. We’d won the Romanet before with Ribbons (2014) and Speedy Boarding (2016), so I always had that race at the back of my mind. She was in good form, so we said we’d have a cut at the Romanet and she won it well.
“Having won the Romanet, we went for the Opera and she ran very well there. She was beaten barely a length and her rating has gone up from 101 to 116 this year.
“I always find if I go for a big race as an afterthought it doesn’t come off, but the Breeders’ Cup is nicely spaced after the Opera and she seems in good form.”
Cayenne Pepper will lead a three-strong team for Jessica Harrington at next week’s Breeders’ Cup.
The Moone-based handler has established herself as one the sport’s great dual-purpose trainers during a career spanning 30 years.
As well as being the most successful female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, where her triumphs include two Champion Chases with Moscow Flyer, a Champion Hurdle with Jezki and the Gold Cup with Sizing John, she has becoming increasingly potent on the Flat in recent years.
Harrington broke new ground last season when Albigna became her first ever runner at the Breeders’ Cup, finishing fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, and she will this year head to Keeneland with high hopes of opening her account.
Cayenne Pepper appears a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, while Cadillac and Oodnadatta are set to contest the Juvenile Turf and the Juvenile Fillies Turf respectively.
Cayenne Pepper would be a particularly poignant winner following the death of her American owner Jon Kelly earlier this year.
Harrington said: “Cayenne Pepper’s owners Sarah and Jon, when he was alive, couldn’t come over to see Cayenne Pepper run this summer, so I said if it was in any way possible, we’d bring her to the Breeders’ Cup.
“Cadillac won a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Juvenile Turf at Leopardstown. There are also some American owners in the syndicate that own him, so we thought it was probably a good idea to send him as well.
“We added Oodnadatta because she ran in the Moyglare and there wasn’t really anything else. She wants a bit of nice ground and everywhere we wanted to go, like the Arc meeting at Longchamp and Newmarket, the ground was soft.
“As the other two were going, we said we’d take her and I think she’s going there with an each-way chance.”
Cayenne Pepper kicked off her campaign by finishing runner-up to the top-class older filly Magical in the Pretty Polly Stakes, before finishing second in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Give Thanks Stakes at the Curragh.
A drop in trip helped her get back to winning ways with an impressive victory in the Group Two Blandford Stakes on her return to the Curragh last month.
“Sarah is going to be there, so let’s hope the filly can run a big race and show her true colours in Jon’s memory,” Harrington continued.
“I suppose I’d love to be drawn three or four – towards the inside, but not on the rail. I don’t really want to be drawn out wide.
“I would like no extremes of ground – I don’t want it too firm and I don’t want it too wet. Good ground would be fine.”
Cadillac bolted up on his Leopardstown debut in early July, before being touched off by recent Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Mac Swiney in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh the following month.
The Lope De Vega colt then slammed subsequent French Group One winner Van Gogh in a Group Two on his return to Leopardstown, but could only finish fifth when stepped up to the highest level for the Dewhurst at Newmarket.
“He just got stuck in the mud in the Dewhurst. I should have been very grown up and taken him out, but it’s a very hard thing to do when you’re over there and it’s a Group One,” Harrington explained.
“When Mac Swiney beat him at the Curragh it was very soft, holding ground and Shane (Foley, jockey) said he knew going to the start he didn’t like it.
“He’s quite a laid back horse. We were very surprised when he won his maiden as he never impresses you at home and just goes through the motions, so we never really know how he is.”
Oodnadatta also won on her racecourse introduction at Leopardstown, before finishing fifth in the Silver Flash and third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Harrington added: “She won first time out and unfortunately her second race was a complete non-event, as she got bumped coming out of the stalls and never had a chance of getting into it.
“She did run very well in the Moyglare over seven furlongs and all she was doing was staying on.
“Hopefully a fast-run race over a mile will suit her.”
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